Worry is the bane of many people’s lives. People worry about what has happened, what is happening and what may happen in the future. However, the truth of the matter is that the past cannot be changed and the future, even tomorrow, is unknown and unpredictable. The present and the present only is where you have a little influence. We can certainly learn from past mistakes to help us avoid making new mistakes in the present, but no one can guarantee what they may, or may not do in the future.
Some level of planning for the future is needed and some future events are inevitable, but the truth is that time and chance happen to everybody and we have little influence over what the outcome of events will or will not be. But one thing is certain, whatever the outcomes of events whether for good or ill, worrying will change nothing!
Yet so often human beings find themselves ruminating about past events that were depressing or caused anxiety at the time they happened, or find themselves thinking about future events that ‘may be’ depressing or worrying. All human beings are very good at having “if only” thoughts. You know, the ones that go along the lines of, if only this or that had gone differently, if only I had done this or that things would be different now.
However, stepping back and being more objective would show that the event has already happened; it is in the past and is unchangeable. You may be able to influence the consequences, but you cannot change the event. It is impossible to time travel and go back to change our lives! But the worry goes on…
Human beings are also very good at having thoughts of “what if…” What if this or that happens? The mind worries about possible future life events that will cause distress or harm in some way. How often do these fears and worries actually happen? Very few times! But the anxiety and worry goes on…
Be honest does worry change anything? The answer is an emphatic no! Yet we all spend time and effort on worry, becoming disheartened and miserable as a result.
The prophet Isaiah wrote: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3). Peace is the exact opposite of worry. An incident in the life of the apostle Peter gives a graphic example of the lesson in trust that all must learn before finding true peace of mind. Matthew records the incident when Jesus had sent the disciples ahead whilst he went up on a mountain to pray (Matt 14:22-33). The disciples rowed throughout the night into a strong headwind, the boat being tossed about by the waves (life can often feel like we are constantly heading into the wind and getting nowhere). Just imagine them cold, exhausted and rowing hard, and then suddenly out of the darkness Jesus appeared walking across the stormy water. The narrative says simply that the disciples were troubled “and cried out for fear”. Jesus reassured them by saying “It is I; do not be afraid.” Peter replied: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”. Jesus simply said “Come”. So Peter climbed out of the boat and walked out upon the water toward Jesus.
Peter at this point, his worries and concerns put aside, demonstrated his faith and trust in the Lord. The problem came when he looked around, saw the waves and felt the strength of wind. Worry and concern set in. Peter thought about the potential dangers, thus his faith wavered and he began to sink.
This situation can happen to any one of us. Life goes along with its usual day to day concerns then suddenly a storm hits, the wind blows against us and the waves get rough. This is the time of testing, the time when worry sets in. Maybe we strive to put faith into action, we pray about it and for a time walk on the troubled waters of life. But we are all frail and weak, even the best of us, sooner or later as the storm continues faith has moments when it wavers, the storms of life threaten to overwhelm us and we begin to sink.
Peter immediately cried out to Jesus: “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediate response was to stretch out his hand and catch him, Peter was that close! So close, yet his faith wavered. Help in times of trouble is that close to us. Just because storms arise does not mean that providence does not work in our lives. Help is only a faithful prayer away!
Worry comes because all of us are vulnerable. We are mortal and physically, emotionally and spiritually vulnerable. Like Peter, we are capable of drowning in the sea of life. So when confronted with our vulnerability, there is a choice, sink or recognise our own inabilities and trust in God to care for us.
Jesus chided Peter saying: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When the time comes for Him to review our lives, what will Jesus say to us?
There is no need to worry and worry really does not solve anything. Peter exhorts:
“Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (John 14:27)
“He cares for you”! What love, what care God has already showered upon us His children by providing the means of our salvation. If He has already shown such great mercy and love, how can we doubt that He will not continue to love and care for us?
Just as we bring our children up to learn independence by not always instantly making things right when problems arise, but rather let our children learn from adversity, so God teaches His children. Therefore, strive to see every problem as an opportunity and means of developing trust and faith. Trials in life are a means by which God teaches each of His children spiritual lessons. That way rather than worrying about problems, they will be seen as opportunities to show God how much we love and trust Him!
Jesus encouraged his disciples saying:
“I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?'” “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25-34)
So do not lose heart when the waves get rough and the wind blows hard, for Jesus has promised:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27)